1630 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Fifth Ode of Horace. Lib. I.

Poems, &c. upon several Occasions. By Mr. John Milton: both English and Latin, &c. Composed at several Times. With a small Tractate of Education to Mr. Hartlib.

John Milton


Milton's undated translation of Horace's Pyrrha ode was first published in 1673. It attracted little notice until Joseph Warton, Thomas Warton, and William Collins all took up its blank verse quatrains in the 1740s. The measure was later popularized by Collins's Ode to Evening, which generated scores of imitations by romantic poets. Several later writers, including Thomas Warton, used it for translations of Horace.

William Mitford: "The few lyric poems which we have in our language without rime, are scarcely sufficient to prove either the adequacy or the insufficiency of unrimed measures for lyric poetry in our language. Milton's translation of the fifth ode of Horace's first book, is truly 'simplex munditiis'" Essay upon the Harmony of the English Language (1774) 190.

An anonymous attempt at a more literal translation in the same meter was published in the Public Advertiser, 2 August 1777.



What slender Youth bedew'd wtih liquid odours
Courts thee on Roses in some pleasant Cave,
Pyrrha, for whom bind'st thou
In wreaths thy golden Hair,
Plain in thy neatness; O how oft shall he
On Faith and changed Gods complain: and Seas
Rough with black winds and storms
Unwonted shall admire:
Who now enjoyes thee credulous, all Gold,
Who alwayes vacant alwayes amiable
Hopes thee; of flattering gales
Unmindful. Hapless they
To whom thou untry'd seem'st fair. Me in my vow'd
Picture the sacred wall declares t' have hung
My dank and dropping weeds
To the stern God of Sea.

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